More than a decade before Alligator Records began reviving the careers of Koko Taylor, Fenton Robinson, Lonnie Brooks, and Detroit Junior, among others in the 1970s, these cats were cutting killer sessions for little labels that you probably have never heard of, including USA Records (not to be confused with Leonard Allen's twin labels United and States from the '50s). Recorded between 1963 and 1966, The USA Records Blues Story captures a dozen of Chicago's best at their peak, often in the midst of some kind of historic transition artistically -- witness Koko Taylor a couple years shy of "Wang Dang Doodle," Fenton Robinson a couple years shy of "Somebody Loan Me a Dime," and Junior Wells a couple years shy of his Hoodoo Man Blues breakthrough. But USA also lured more bankable talent, including Willie Mabon and J.B. Lenoir, who were both still going strong long after their stints with Chess Records. If USA Records ever cut any duds, you wouldn't know it from the way Bill Dahl compiled the reissue; this one hits the jackpot all the way through.
AllMusic Review by Ken Chang